Shero not thinking big at trade deadline

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Ray Shero knows he'll spend a lot of time on the phone between now and the NHL trade deadline in two weeks.

Enough that he might have to have a receiver surgically removed from his ear.

"There are a lot of people talking," he said. "Trying to find out what's available, maybe what the cost is."

It's conceivable that Shero figures he'll be able to make a move or two before 3 p.m. Feb. 26, if only because it seems as if just about every club does.

But at this moment, there's very little -- if any -- reason to think Shero will be seeking to do much more than fine-tune his roster by filling a specific void or two.

Indeed, while he doesn't rule out giving up someone from his NHL roster, it doesn't sound as if doing so will be a cornerstone of his deadline strategy.

"I think we're in a good position," Shero said. "I think you're looking to add [to the major-league roster] rather than to subtract, from a position like ours. But it depends. You never know."

Shero, then in his first season as general manager of the Penguins, made five moves at the 2007 deadline, but surrendered only one player from his NHL lineup.

He sent defensive prospect Noah Welch to Florida for left winger Gary Roberts, a fourth-round draft choice to the Panthers for defenseman Joel Kwiatkowski, forward prospect Daniel Carcillo and a third-rounder to Phoenix for right winger Georges Laraque, a seventh-rounder to San Jose for minor-league goalie Nolan Schaefer and center Dominic Moore to Minnesota for a third-round choice.

Although Shero declined to specify the type of player he hopes to acquire before the deadline, the conventional wisdom is that the Penguins would benefit from adding a goal-scoring winger and some depth on defense, ideally in the form of a veteran with a physical edge to his game.

"I'm all ears," Shero said. "I'll just continue to look around. I like the way our team has played. We're going to get a number of players back from injury. Right now, a lot of guys have stepped up and done a very good job. I've said all along that I like our team."

At least for now, more teams are looking to add players than to move them. That's mostly because only a handful of clubs have lost all hope of qualifying for the playoffs.

Several, such as St. Louis, could go either way, depending on how they fare in the next 10 days or so. They could become buyers if they surge, sellers if they slump.

"There are a few teams like that," Shero said. "But you're always making calls to see, just in case. If they went one way, what would they do? Who would be available? And if not, what could they be looking for?"

The Penguins have won three consecutive games and are 6-2-2 since center Sidney Crosby was forced from the lineup by a high ankle sprain. But even if their current run of strong play continues to the deadline, it won't necessarily deter Shero from tweaking his personnel.

"We were playing well last year near the deadline, and there were a couple of things we wanted to try to do, which we accomplished," he said. "But you don't have a crystal ball as to how it could play out.

"We assume we're getting players back from injury, but the other assumption is that everybody else is going to [stay] healthy, so things could change game-to-game. You have to see what your holes could be."

Indications are that some prominent veterans on the cusp of unrestricted free agency -- guys such as Toronto center Mats Sundin and Atlanta winger Marian Hossa -- could go on the market in the coming days, if they aren't there already. The Penguins, though, almost certainly will pass on big-name talent that will command a steep price in a trade and might be on the payroll for only a couple of months.

Surrendering too many assets for a short-term rental would conflict with Shero's oft-stated philosophy of methodically constructing a team that can mature into a perennial contender.

"I want to talk to the coaches over the next week to see what they see from our team, and have [more scouting meetings] as we go forward," Shero said. "Fill our group in as to what could be available and what the cost is, knowing that we're still going to be a league next year and the year after."


Dave Molinari can be reached at DWMolinari@Yahoo.com .


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